CARE campaigns for better protections for problem gamblers in the UK, especially those who struggle with online gambling. The 2010 Problem Gambling Prevalence Survey, the most robust measure of problem gambling suggests that about 400,000 people in the UK suffer from problem gambling. The problem gambling prevalence figure for online gambling is significantly higher than the general online problem gambling figure. This is no doubt because online gambling is available 24-7 and can be accessed without leaving the house or even a bedroom. It is profoundly destructive socially, undermining productivity in the workplace, generating significant pressure and hardship in families and can result in family breakdown and even suicide.
During this Parliament CARE has campaigned primarily for two innovations to protect problem gamblers.
To protect problem gamblers from legal, licensed online gambling opportunities we have campaigned for the provision of one stop shop self-exclusion. One of the key ways in which problem gamblers are assisted is through self-exclusion, the opportunity for a problem gambler, on a good day, to take matters in hand by notifying a gambling provider not to service them for a fixed period, say 6 months. The problem with this approach has been that while it is possible for a problem gambler to self-exclude from all 5 betting shops in his town for 6 months, and thus cut himself off from the temptation of local offline betting opportunities, this is not true online. Once an online problem gambler has self-excluded from 5 sites there will still be hundreds of alternative sights equally available without even leaving his bedroom. One stop shop self-exclusion addresses this by giving online problem gamblers the opportunity to self-exclude once to the Gambling Commission and for this to then require all online gambling sites with a Gambling Commission licence not to service the problem gambler for the duration of their self-exclusion as a condition of their license.
To protect problem gamblers from illegal, unlicensed online gambling opportunities we have campaigned for Financial Transaction Blocking. This requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and online gambling web sites that do not have a UK Gambling Commission licence.
The Government has resisted changing the law to make provision for these two innovations BUT it has asked the Gambling Commission to adopt both these proposals on a non-statutory basis. The Gambling Commission has just completed a consultation on the introduction of one stop shop self-exclusion and has negotiated a financial transaction blocking agreement with the main financial transaction providers.
Questions for Candidates
- Will you promise to hold the Government to their commitment to ask the Gambling Commission to introduce a one stop shop self-exclusion mechanism for online problem gamblers?
- Will you pledge to hold the Government to its commitment to ask the Gambling Commission to introduce Financial Transaction Blocking to prevent people in the UK using an unlicensed web site?